Drug-endangered child bills fail

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Earlier this month, we examined two controversial bills about drug-endangered children that "could arguably make all cannabis-using parents criminals" according to our William Breathes.

Senator Linda Newell, who sponsored the measures, passionately disagreed with this interpretation. But yesterday, both measures failed after the state senate reportedly approved them only to reverse course.

"This certainly is not targeting marijuana in any way," Newell told us during our previous interview. "I believe in the Constitution, and [marijuana use by adults 21 and over] is a constitutional right -- and everybody continues to have that right. But if there are kiddos out there who need our help, we need to make sure they don't fall through the cracks. We need something consistent and we don't have that right now."

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State Senator Linda Newell.
As we've reported, the numerically consecutive nature of the bills, known as SB 14-177 and SB 14-178, was appropriate, given that they were a matched set. The former set out to define the term "drug-endangered child" in the children's code governing actions by state social services, while the latter did likewise in the criminal code that sets parameters for law enforcement.

We've included the complete documents below, but here's the main definition:

"DRUG-ENDANGERED CHILD" MEANS ANY CHILD IN A CASE IN WHICH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS OCCUR:

(a) IN THE PRESENCE OF A CHILD, OR ON THE PREMISES WHERE A CHILD IS FOUND OR RESIDES, A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...IS MANUFACTURED, DISTRIBUTED, CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED, OR USED, OR ATTEMPTED TO BE MANUFACTURED, DISTRIBUTED, CULTIVATED, PRODUCED, POSSESSED, OR USED, AND WHEN SUCH ACTIVITY THREATENS THE HEALTH OR WELFARE OF THE CHILD; OR

(b) A CHILD'S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING... A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; OR

(c) A CHILD'S HEALTH OR WELFARE IS THREATENED BY THE IMPAIRMENT OF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE CHILD...IF THE IMPAIRMENT IS DUE TO THE USE OF EITHER A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...OR ANY LEGAL SUBSTANCE CAPABLE OF CAUSING A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT; OR

(d) A CHILD TESTS POSITIVE AT BIRTH FOR EITHER A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...OR A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE...UNLESS THE CHILD TESTS POSITIVE FOR A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AS A RESULT OF THE MOTHER'S LAWFUL INTAKE OF SUCH SUBSTANCE AS PRESCRIBED.

Are the phrases pertaining to threats against a child's welfare so sweeping that they would make it impossible for any parent to engage in legal cannabis use, home grows or the like without violating one or more of them? That was the conclusion of many in the marijuana community. But Newell insisted that her goal was clarification, not criminalization of legal activity by parents.

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"There's a disconnect between the criminal code and the children's code," Newell said. "Without a common definition between them, it is truly at the discretion of each individual person who interacts with a family to discern if there is a drug-endangered child or not.

"This bill would only come into play when there's a negative effect on a child," she added. "It's only when health and welfare of the child is negatively affected that it has any impact at all -- and it has nothing to do with safe homes that are legally growing or using marijuana or any prescription drugs."

These words didn't reassure critics, who continued to lobby against the measures -- and their opposition likely played a part in the legislation's ultimate defeat. The Associated Press maintains that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle felt the new measures didn't truly clear up confusing guidelines about what constitutes a drug-endangered child.

We've reached out to Senator Newell's office for a reaction and will update this post when and if we hear back. In the meantime, here are the bills, as well as a letter from Boulder marijuana business owners who objected to them.

Colorado Senate Bill SB 14-177

Colorado Senate Bill 14-178

Boulder Marijuana Business Owners Letter Opposing Senate Bills 177 and 178

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa April 2: "Marijuana legislative roundup: Child-neglect bills, out-of-state pot enforcement on the table."

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6 comments
Jason DrSoul Lewis
Jason DrSoul Lewis

they'd have to actually specify which drugs. otherwise this could mean alcohol, prescription drugs, cigarettes..etc. lol they don't think these things out?

knottygalcreations
knottygalcreations

As a parent of a preschooler who also has rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative bone and joint disease I am much more concerned about my child being exposed to the narcotics and other extremely toxic pharmaceutical drugs that patients with my conditions are routinely given to treat symptoms. I put up with being in excruciating pain for years when my docs were trying to give me very strong narcotics because I wanted to be functional and able to care for her and only took OTC pain meds and a low dose of semi narcotics. If I had taken the narcotics they wanted to give me and experienced the grogginess, brain fog and other symptoms that are common side effects and fell asleep while she needed something or accidentally dropped one on the floor for her to find fatal consequences could have followed.

Yet, these drugs aren't illegal even though they can cause liver toxicity, impairment and other side effects that can lead to death while cannabis is considered just as harmful. If they are going to make sweeping laws that include all substances on the federal schedules they need to adjust them to reflect the fact that we know cannabis is nontoxic and exclude it.

There have been long term studies on cannabis use by families including children's use in Jamaica and also studies that showed that babies and toddlers exposes to cannabis by pregnant mothers and after birth were superior in every way to babies that were never exposed from non using families. The studies were conducted by Melanie Dreher in Jamaica and are some of the only ones that include a large sample and that followed the subjects for years and compared them to control groups in their natural environments. There is no reason to try to attack cannabis using parents except to infringe on their rights by using fear and coersion to force them to use toxic substances to treat their medical issues instead of using their lawfully allowed cannabis medicine. Laws like this are a disgrace when there are none that specifically target parents who use alcohol or toxic pharmaceutical drugs that have been shown to be harmful to fetuses or that are untested on fetuses. My own docs tried to get me to continue taking prednisone which is proven to cause birth defects while I was recently pregnant and there is no law to prosecute them under for that bad medical advice.

Robin Shaw
Robin Shaw

The bills were too broad in scope. This law could be interpreted to include all LEGAL controlled substances in the child's presence including alcohol, prescription medication... Anything, really. Glad it didn't pass... Could have been very destructive to children and their families with very little cause

imahead
imahead

"kettle you're black"  says Pot....

Irony is one ignorant bitch calling someone else an ignorant bitch....

maybe you should eat some edibles and go out on your balcony...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

All this ignorant lying bitch had to do -- if she weren't an ignorant lying bitch -- was simply write an exclusion for marijuana into her bills:


Exceptions: none of the provisions of this bill apply to Marijuana use, manufacture, cultivation, distribution, production or processing.


How hard would that have been, you ignorant lying bitch?


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